Poverty in America: The Welfare Dilemma

By Ralph Segalman; Asoke Basu | Go to book overview
Save to active project

THE PARAMETERS OF POVERTY 1

HOULT (p. 245) defines poverty as (1) "a scarcity of the means of subsistence" and (2) "a level of living that is below a particular minimum standard." The Theodorsons (p. 307) define it as "a standard of living that lasts long enough to undermine the health, morale and self-respect of an individual or group of individuals. The term is relative to the general standard of living in society, the distribution of wealth, the status system and social expectations." If Hoult's definition is accepted, it becomes a fiscal exercise to determine who is poor. In his exploratory exercise The Measurement of Poverty, Watts provides one of many such economic conceptualizations of the condition. The Theodorsons' definition describes relative deprivation or affluence. In order to identify poverty, they say it is necessary to compare the subjects" wants--or needs--with those of nonpoverty population sectors (also see Theobald).

Milner's work makes it clear that inequality is an inevitable condition in an "equalitarian but striving" society ( 1972a). In such a society, everyone is given a chance to get ahead. Few people realize the corollary to this notion, which is that everyone has the opportunity to be gotten ahead of. In Milner's view, status insecurity is a necessary part of any society which affords both significant inequality and equal opportunity. In such a situation, a person's only defense is to stay ahead: "If others raise their income or education you must raise yours. If others get a new car, you must buy a bigger one" ( 1972b, p. 20). Milner terms this situation status inflation, which he states occurs "when there is a decrease in the social value attributed to a given level of absolute income." Thus, equality of opportunity, status insecurity, and status seeking combine to produce status inflation. Milner asserts that there is a paradoxical conflict between the belief that rights and respect are everyone's equal due, and the belief that there is virtue in individual achievement and that a person's rewards should closely correspond to his achievements. Thus, Milner portrays "equalitarian competition" as an unending relay race. "Whether you will be ahead when you finish your lap is strongly influenced by how far ahead

-3-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Poverty in America: The Welfare Dilemma
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 426

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?